Legal Recreational Cannabis Stomps on Enrolment in Medical Marijuna Programs


BY: Chronic Staff | Recent News | December 22, 2021


History tells us that residents registered as active medical cardholders increased at a time when recreational cannabis was not yet legal. Tables have turned. State registration for medical marijuana cards decreased now that recreational cannabis became legal. Statistics show a decrease of 100 cardholders per 100,000 people per year.


Researchers who conducted a study showed that lower medical marijuana enrollment in the U.S. states where recreational cannabis has been legalized conclude that it can possibly have public health and policy impact.


Some researchers out of Arizona where both adult-use and medicinal cannabis is legal checked registry data from around 2 dozen states with mandatory registries from 2013 and 2020. They have considered if enrolment trends experience an increase or decrease or any obvious change depending on the legalization of adult-use cannabis.


Data indicated that registered and active medical cardholders increased over time while recreational cannabis was not legal at 380 cardholders per 100,000 people per year when only medical marijuana was legal. Upon the go signal of the state for recreational cannabis, it decreased to 100 cardholders per year.


The authors of the research also slightly emphasize that in medical-only states, 35 and older increased faster than those in the age bracket of 18-30 cardholders. In recreational states though, male cardholders decreased faster than female cardholders. And for the three states with medical-only cannabis, results showed obvious increases from 2016 to 2020 in enrolment of White, African-American and Hispanic individuals. Understanding those patterns should be a public health priority given the regulatory changes that increased access to both types of cannabis.


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